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India’s Covid-19 Crisis Tests the World’s Back Offices


India’s giant outsourcing firms are facing a two-front challenge: protecting the health of millions of employees as the nation suffers the world’s worst Covid-19 crisis, and ensuring that their work continues as usual for the big Western companies on their client lists.

Companies like Infosys Ltd. , Wipro Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. , known as TCS, have built up armies of workers who serve global clients like Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc.’s Citibank and Vanguard Group, doing everything from running call centers to writing computer code. The companies, along with Western tech businesses with large India-based staffs, are dealing with absences of sick workers, trying to help stricken employees find oxygen and getting vaccine shots for others at a time when such resources are scarce.

“I don’t think anyone can downplay the challenge,” said Sandip Patel, International Business Machines Corp.’s managing director for India. IBM is working to vaccinate its 100,000-plus staff in India, and providing them with services such as medically supervised quarantining in hotels.

“What we’re going through right now has no management or operational playbook,” Mr. Patel said.

India has logged more than 25 million Covid-19 infections and over 280,000 deaths; months earlier, it appeared the nation had contained a first surge of the virus.



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